Last week I completed a class that fulfills one of my requirements as a licensed minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It was a Disciples History class that was very similar to the same class that seminary students take if they attend Bright Divinity School at TCU. In fact Cory Glover took the class a year or so ago at Bright. Dr. Mark Toulouse who teaches the class at Bright gave us video lectures and a pile of reading to do. I hit the class with a vengeance and although I was very frustrated at times (because of all the reading that was required and I had lost my only real "sabbath" day to this class...more on that later) I stayed current with the assignments and kept up with readings and lectures...until Holy week. So much to do that week at church blew me out of the water on the class. I even had some other Saturday church responsibilities that slowed me even more. I am also a father of 2 and I had some dance competitions I had to go to support my daughter. All this led to a very minimalist approach to the last half of the course.
Of course future M.Div Glover told me that the class I was taking was 1/10th the reading and papers he had to do for his class (Look at Glover's blog and his summer reading list.. I hope I get through 2 books in a summer.. he's got like 47 up there so he could handle all that..) I heard through my Sr. Pastor that Dr. Toulouse said he had watered the class down as much as he could for the licensed ministers. We couldn't do less and really learn about our church. WOW!
It was a great venture, I really enjoyed the class and learned of the beauty of our denomination.. that for years we would not accept the moniker "denomination" because we were really a "movement". From the beginnings unity was important and setting aside man made creeds and rules were a part of the passion. It was a part of the make up of the early American frontier...our independence, self reliance, heck.. we didn't even HAVE to go to church any more much less be part of some state required church. It fit the personality of the American frontiersman.
An early motto was""In essentials, unity; in opinions, liberty; in all things, charity". That has grown to mean that Christ is our only creed. We can talk, discuss, see things differently even argue passionately but we will part friends and brothers/sisters in Christ.
Our church still aches for unity and is very passionate about ecumenical ventures to serve and change the world. We have an open table that we celebrate weekly and although we baptize by immersion we accept all forms of baptism from those that may desire to become a part of our church.
I was very happy when the class was over but I was also disappointed that I was not able to give it the time and effort required to complete all the readings. I was also disappointed that I was not able to participate more in the on line discussions.
It also changed me and how I view things. How I view my Bible, how I view the "global church", how I view my role in it. It has wet my appetite for more. I have a desire to attend seminary some day.. I have an inner desire to be ordained but I also have to balance that against how many years I have left on this earth vs what I can get done. Am I doing it for me??? Pride??? Service to others and the greater church? It's something that is a discussion topic for me with others right now. I don't know the answers but I am enjoying the questions.
I look forward to more....after the summer. I need a break.